Predictions 2016: The Mobile Revolution Accelerates

According to a year end Forrester Predictions Brief, as the mobile mindshift speeds up even more in 2016, consumers’ expectations will soar, and more companies will treat mobile as core to the whole customer experience. Not just as a channel, says the report, but an ocean of vendors eager to capitalize on this frenzy will teem with new players. Mobile success will be a key differentiator for enterprise mobile and marketing tech vendors, and digital platforms owning as many mobile moments as possible will become critical.

The global mobile revolution, still in its infancy, will accelerate next year, says the report. By the end of 2016, the Forrester report forecasts that 4.8 billion individuals globally will use a mobile phone. Smartphone subscribers will represent 46% of the global population, driven by an accelerated adoption in Africa and Asia.

These mobile usage, behaviors, and attitudes will develop among consumers and employees:

  • Consumers will stop considering the mobile Internet as a scaled-down subset of the “real” Internet. Mobile devices will become their go-to technology, even in mature economies where people can use alternative devices at home
  • Consumers will continue to spend most of their time in only a few apps but will increasingly turn to aggregation apps and a handful of platforms to get the content and services they need. Capabilities like Apple’s iOS 9 Peek and Pop and services like Google Now and Microsoft Cortana will allow developers to address users’ mobile moments without writing individual mobile apps

In 2016, Forrester forecasts mobile and tablet commerce will reach $142 billion in the US and €86 billion in EU-7, representing respectively 38% and 32% of online transactions. In the US, more than 30% of sales will have a mobile cross channel component, meaning consumers will use mobile at some point throughout the purchase life cycle, from product research to in-store interactions.

  • Privacy concerns increase, but most users’ daily habits won’t change. Consumers will be increasingly aware of the hidden harvesting of their data via mobile devices, but most consumers won’t change their daily mobile usage behaviors, relying instead on protective technologies and privacy advocates to fight for greater privacy rights
  • Employee mobile app adoption surges in the enterprise, the report continues. App-enabled employees at global enterprises are 50% more likely to report that their fellow employees are happy to work at their company and 40% more likely to say their company’s customers are satisfied with the company’s products and services. In 2016, 61% of mobility decision-makers at enterprises expect to roll out new mobile-based products and services and 62% will increase their budgets to pay for more apps

As customer expectations of convenience escalate, the pressure will be on firms to tap new technologies to serve customers in context where they already are, not where brands find it convenient to serve them. Firms will look to use context both to assemble and deliver experiences dynamically on their own and third-party platforms. In 2016:

  • Connected devices and services such as apps, cars, TVs, fitness bands, and scales are generating data about consumer usage, preferences, and environments at an unprecedented pace. In 2016, companies will begin to collect data from multiple sources, create insights through crowdsourcing and big data solutions, and begin to use the insights to deliver utility back to consumers. Digital platforms will fuel their own product and service development in 2016
  • Alternative ecosystems beyond Android and iOS emerge. New mobile platforms such as WeChat in China or Facebook Messenger in the US are quickly accumulating power as the owners of vast audiences and rich data about those consumers. In 2016, these ecosystems will grow as brands look to serve existing customers in context and developers flock to platforms with large audiences

With 78% of smartphones globally running on some version of Android in 2015, Google has the largest addressable mobile ecosystem. This won’t change in 2016. But Android’s fragmentation problem will grow worse as long as original equipment manufacturers and carriers are calling the shots. To combat it, expect Google to reset its Android One program and invest more in expanding its services to other platforms.

Due to exponential attacks, mobile security will extend to include user context. The number of malicious mobile security attacks will at least double from 2015, says the report. While these breaches won’t significantly affect consumer behaviors, businesses will still have to invest more to meet the level of risk they are seeing on a daily basis.

  • Mobile security vendors will expand to include operating system, user, application, and network contextual data to improve the user experience around security controls such as mobile authentication and authorization. For example, Risk and user behaviors embedded into mobile authentication technologies will allow mobile application single sign-on to emerge. The combination of fingerprint, voice, and facial recognition will augment passwords on mobile devices and enable new mobile payment use cases
  • Just 18% of companies surveyed are beyond mobile-first and using mobile to transform the entire customer experience. Next year, says the report, expect that more than 25% of companies will use mobile not as a channel, but as a fully integrated part of their overall strategy

The headlong rush to profit from the mobile mind shift has spawned an explosion of mobile specialists and mobile opportunists, all trying to convince business and technology decision-makers that they have the right approach. In 2016, the mobile bazaar will continue to grow even while consolidation occurs:

  • The battle for mobile moments drives acquisitions from Internet giants. Winning in your customers’ mobile moments demands both context and data and ownership of those moments. Acquisitions will help Internet giants expand their audience to reach new demographic segments, geographies, or markets
  • Enterprise mobile vendors consolidate. The mobile infrastructure services market is still quite fragmented with over 30 solutions. The convergence between mobile middleware and mobile back-end-as-a-service markets, coupled with the need to support front-end developers with application programming interface management
  • Big marketing tech vendors invest in mobile and automate it. Consumers string together a brand experience from moments that traverse channels and devices, and marketing tech stacks have to do the same. In 2016, marketing tech vendors will find themselves in an arms race to provide not just automation, but machine learning to derive insights from big data and campaign optimization. They will focus R&D on improved data management capabilities and predictive algorithms

Please look here for “Predictions 2016: The Mobile Revolution Accelerates” from Forrester Research, for additional material not included in this ResearchBrief.

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